Zoning change proposed for Rancho Santa Fe village property

A rendering for the Gateway project in Rancho Santa Fe.
(Karen Billing)

Development of the gas station site includes assisted living, boutique market


The Rancho Santa Fe Association took the first step toward modifying the zoning of a prominently placed village parcel. At the Sept. 7 meeting, the board approved starting the process for a Protective Covenant modification for the Gateway development, the proposed assisted living and boutique market development that will replace the existing gas station.

The change will allow for more flexibility on how the property at the village entrance can be used, according to RSF Association Planning and Development Director Maryam Babaki.

“Covenant modifications are usually very, very difficult,” Babaki said, noting that the Covenant provides for zone changes with a two-thirds vote of approval from surrounding property owners.

The current zoning of the property is very unique, classified as Zone G, which allows for wholesale and material businesses. The language dates back to the 1920s and includes uses such as a blacksmith shop, creamery, laundry, milk bottling, wood yard, car barn or a feed or fuel business, which the gas station falls under.

The modification would change the property to Class D like the rest of the village commercial area, allowing for retail businesses, offices and dwellings.

The modification is a multi-step process, starting with sending out ballots to all residents located within 500 feet of the project —the developer has agreed to foot the bill for the mailing. After the vote, the modification goes to the Art Jury then to the Association board for approval, followed by a 30-day public noticing period where a petition of 100 members in opposition can force a Covenant-wide vote.

Babaki said the classification does not presuppose the final approval of the new use and is in no way an endorsement of the project. Speaking in support of moving ahead with the modification process, Director Phil Trubey said there are a lot of protections built in for residents.

“The actual G designation is archaic, a gas station happens to fit in there but that’s about it,” Trubey said. “We all talk about village revitalization...putting this into a class category that makes sense is part of that.”

As Director Scott Thurman agreed, it aligns the site with all of the other properties in the downtown area, improving its possibilities for use.

A Covenant modification was last attempted in 2020, to allow the Village Church to install a columbarium, a memorial garden with niches to keep human cremains. The use is prohibited in the first article of the Covenant and in order to change the article, two-thirds of the property owners of record in the Covenant had to have voted in favor of the change. Despite the deadline being extended twice, the Association did not receive enough votes and the modification failed.

The Gateway project was originally conditionally approved by the board in 2017 and the developers continue to work through the county approval process. In 2022, the board approved an extension of its approval of the project, through June 2025.

This summer, Landrock Development presented its plans to shift from office space to a 50-bed assisted living facility in the two-story, Lilian Rice-inspired building. The project also includes 35-40 beds for memory care five miles away in Fairbanks Ranch’s Del Rayo Village. A zoning change would have been required for the project either way, with offices or assisted living.

Another change from the previously approved project is that it will include just one level of underground parking rather than a three-level garage.

At the meeting, RSF Association Board President Courtney LeBeau said since the developer’s presentation in June, they have received positive member input on the project.